NCS basketball: Road to section championship gets tougher

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Empire teams have played well on the road in the North Coast Section basketball playoffs and must to keep at it in the semifinals.

The Ukiah, Analy and St. Vincent girls look to stay strong away from home. Santa Rosa’s girls face perhaps the toughest task. By reaching the NCS semis each squad qualified to play in the NorCal regionals of the CIF state playoffs to follow. And the Archbishop Hanna boys also look to keep their season alive.

Each game is Wednesday at 7 p.m.

GIRLS

Division 1: Santa Rosa (27-3) at Berkeley (20-7)

Santa Rosa takes on basketball royalty.

Runners up in the past three CIF state large school finals, Berkeley has a pair of state titles to go with 21 section championships.

With the Panthers healthy again, Santa Rosa has the size to play with Berkeley. Post standouts Morgan Bertsch and Devin Murray combine for 32 points and 16 rebounds a game. Playmaker Katie Daly, averaging 7 assists, will need a steady hand.

Berkeley, seeded second, is young with lone senior Desire Finnie a double-double threat. Also leading Berkeley is Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman, who dishes as well as scores and rebounds.

Santa Rosa last reached the section semifinals in 2011, also as a three seed, in Division 2.

Division 2: Ukiah (14-3) at Clayton Valley Charter (22-6)

The lowest seeded Empire team still playing, Ukiah has scored a pair of upsets on the road.

The deep North Bay League prepared Ukiah for the playoffs. Ukiah, seeded 10th, has played best when it counts.

Ally Milone has been the Wildcats mainstay, totaling 34 points in narrow wins over Redwood and Windsor.

An undefeated league season helps Clayton Valley Charter’s merit the third seed. CVC defeated Montgomery, Maria Carrillo and Sonoma Valley and falling to Santa Rosa.

The hosts from Concord are led by Kayla Taylor, a dominant post player, and Hailey Pascoe, a 3-point threat. Depth is another strength with four players each scoring more than 7 points a game.

Division 3: Analy (19-10) at Miramonte (26-1)

Analy has played with purpose following a loss in the Sonoma County League tournament final. Strong all season in close contests, Analy aims to stay within range of powerful Miramonte, the top seed. The Tigers, seeded fifth, upset San Marin in overtime to advance out of the quarterfinals.

Leading the Tigers are Jenna Petray, a post player with shooting range, big guard Jessie Davidson, and playmaker Taylor Lehmann, also a lockdown defender. Another strong all around, inside-outside game and solid bench play is needed to compete with Miramonte.

Miramonte is among the state’s best, going undefeated in league play and with only one loss on the season.

Miramonte doubles the point totals of opponents, playing stout defense to match a high powered offense.

Division 5: St. Vincent (24-6) at San Domenico (23-4)

Familiar foes, St. Vincent fell to San Domenico in nonleague play this season. The contest was played at a deliberate pace that favored the girls from San Anselmo.

Seeded sixth, St. Vincent has the experience and depth to play with any opponent this season. Returning five starters, St. Vincent is best attacking the basket and deploying a pressing defense featuring enough traps to make teams uncomfortable.

Strong across the floor, St. Vincent has four seniors — Rebecca Dodele, Maddie Perry, Grace Jennings, and Jacalyn Murphy — making the most of a final playoff run. The Mustangs are coming off an overtime win at St. Joseph Notre Dame.

San Domenico is the second seed. Defense is the team’s calling card and San Domenico has three players averaging more than seven rebounds

Three juniors pace the squad in scoring: Elyzah Bernstein, Rachele Nagler and Aminat Oladunjoye.

BOYS

Division 6: Archbishop Hanna (24-4) at California School for the Deaf (23-3)

Gaining home games in section play was the goal for Archbishop Hanna with the team hoping a deep playoff run was possible. Now the boys from the Sonoma Valley must get past top seed California School for the Deaf to keep playing. A strong outside shooting team, Archbishop Hanna has been winning with better balance inside. A strong starting unit is matched by a deep bench.

Armani Perry is the catalyst with ample scoring support led by Fernando Marquez. Point guard Darius Johnson and top rebounder Jesse Limon bolster the attack. As the fourth seed, Archbishop Hanna figured to face California School for the Deaf in the semifinals. The hosts from Fremont are a fit, deep squad that plays disciplined basketball. While the team scores at a good clip, defense is the reason they beat teams by sizable margins.

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